£30,000 Boost For Galloway Forest Black Grouse Breeding Site

Forestry and Land Scotland’s efforts to help the Black Grouse population in Galloway Forest Park have received a £30,000 boost from NatureScot’s Nature Restoration Fund.

The award will fund the removal of non-native conifer from 35ha of land at a site close to Loch Bradan in Galloway Forest Park, which will help to keep the area open and sustain it as a lekking site – one of the largest in the area and South Scotland as a whole.

The area where the work will be carried out is part of a much larger network habitat. Removing the trees and making the area more open will allow the males and females to fly between leks to ensure connectivity for lekking as well as dispersal.

Kim Kirkbride, FLS Environment Forester in the area, said;

“There has been a significant population loss over the last 15+ years but Dumfries & Galloway, and particularly Galloway Forest Park, is lucky enough to support some of the remaining Black Grouse populations in Southern Scotland.
“However, habitat restoration and enhancement on a landscape scale is key to assisting the survival of this species.
“The area surrounding Loch Braden has been a successful lek for at least 10 years. By restoring the habitat to optimal conditions for the Black Grouse we hope to see it go from strength to strength in the years ahead.
“We very much appreciate the funding from NatureScot that has enabled us to carry out this important restoration work.”

The area where the habitat restoration will take place is a Trial Management Project area, that since 2011 has been monitored as part of a landscape-scale, partnership project with RSPB.

Monitoring will continue to take place annually to measure how successful the removal of the non-native regeneration has been.

NatureScot Head of Biodiversity, Dr Katherine Leys said:

“Black Grouse is an iconic Scottish species, but habitat loss and overgrazing have resulted in long-term population declines. We are pleased to support the work Forestry and Land Scotland is doing to enhance black grouse habitat to help their recovery.
“Biodiversity loss and climate change are major threats to our natural world, but through the Nature Restoration Fund, we can begin to tackle these challenges – putting Scotland’s land and seas back on the road to recovery and helping Scotland’s wildlife flourish.”

The Scottish Government’s Nature Restoration Fund is currently seeking expressions of interest from small and medium projects aiming to start work this year, with grants of up to £250k available. For more information and to apply see the NatureScot website.

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